This morning among the comments I found a couple of references to the biases of Magyar Nemzet and Népszava. The latter was labelled a newspaper of MSZP while someone called Magyar Nemzet Fidesz’s Pravda.
There’s no question that on the front page of Népszava one can read: “Szociáldemokrata napilap.” As far as I know, the paper does get some money from MSZP but not enough to overcome its precarious financial situation. One manifestation of its financial woes: people who used to be regular contributors to the op/ed page are no longer willing to write their columns for nothing. Tamás Mészáros, who for a while disappeared from the pages of Népszava, returned recently, most likely because he feels it his duty to help the paper along. Magyar Nemzet, on the other hand, is doing just fine financially, especially since 2010. The government helps it along with its generous advertising. The number of subscriptions also soared after the formation of the second Orbán government: government offices order multiple copies of the paper, an indirect subsidy to the government’s favorite paper.
Quite a few years back I compared the news of one day as it appeared in Magyar Nemzet and in Népszava. The result? As if these two papers were reporting on two different countries. This time I decided to compare not news items but opinion pieces on the weekend’s political demonstrations. I will refrain from making a judgment on the coverage.
Magyar Nemzet came out with two opinion pieces, one by Zsuzsanna Körmendy and another by Tamás Fricz. Here I will focus on Körmendy’s piece, entitled “Nasty campaign” (Komisz kampány). Its main theme is that while the Fidesz mass demonstration on Saturday was “demure and balanced,” the opposition’s Sunday demonstration was “nervous.” The prime minister’s speech was inspirational and stirring and the demonstrators peaceful. The opposition, however, made fun of them: some people played an old movement song entitled “Our future is one with the party and the people.” This is how it is: “the domestic right for the opposition is either fascist or communist.” Sometimes both at the same time. “What can we say? If we visit a psychiatric ward we have to suffer with a straight face when the patients loudly call us idiots.”
The Peace March has nothing do with Rákosi but with that great experience in April 2002 when Viktor Orbán made a rousing speech in defense of his government and announced that “the nation cannot be in opposition.” It was at that time that many people “discovered their calling to the cause.”
Körmendy didn’t expect much from the opposition, but “one hasn’t heard that much stupidity in the longest time.” The most amusing stupidity came from Ferenc Gyurcsány who told his audience to vote for the opposition because then the sun will shine. Gábor Fodor talked at length about the twelve points of the revolutionary youth in 1848 and dwelt on the union with Transylvania but quickly switched to the union with Europe. “So, Belgium and Austria became part of our country except these countries don’t know anything about it yet.” The third stupidest speech was delivered by Tímea Szabó who “wanted to overthrow not Viktor Orbán’s government but Viktor Orbán himself.” It was, she adds, “quite embarrassing.” Bajnai kept talking to those who were not present. “This way there was no possibility that someone would talk back to him.” Mesterházy’s focus was on “Orbán’s dictatorship which harks back to the Horthy regime, feudalism, and Bolshevism.”
Finally, Körmendy criticizes the patriotism that was “overemphasized by the left-wing speakers.” Fodor was pre-occupied with 1848, Bajnai talked about the well-known song about Lajos Kossuth, Gyurcsány also began his speech with patriotism. Körmendy suspects that “their speeches were written for March 15, which they were too lazy to rewrite.” On the other hand, “we could hear about the essence of patriotism from Vikor Orbán who said: ‘to be Hungarian also means that one is never satisfied with one’s own government, but if necessary, one always stands by it.'”
The socialist and liberal papers downplayed–in fact, practically ignored–the demonstrations. There was only one short editorial in Népszabadság that referred to the two demonstrations. The author’s conclusion is that the voters have already decided and that the two demonstrations made no difference one way or the other. By contrast, Tamás Fricz in Magyar Nemzet views Fidesz’s ability to gather a larger crowd than the opposition psychologically important.
In Népszava only a very short editorial by János Dési, no more than about 200 words, appeared. Dési considers the Sunday demonstration a sign that “the opposition must be taken seriously.” Fidesz underestimates the united opposition which, after all, was able to motivate a large number of people to go out to demonstrate. “The politicians of the opposition know what they are doing.” The organization was good, the speeches were effective and “prove that there is hope. There are many people who want an independent European Hungary.” That’s all I could find.